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Posts Tagged ‘Christ’


Do you ever think about the words used by different generations? Sometimes I do.

Blocks

What words roll around your mind when you think about God?
(Photo by Inga Munster Cotton)

Words, words, words, words

There are times when my mind takes flight over the undulating terrain of words throughout time. This is usually when I probably should be writing something for work. And, although the argument can be made that sitting and thinking about words is part of my creative process, in reality it probably has nothing to do with it, but should have a lot to do with it.

Either way, whether those words end up in my stories or not, my mind flies over to them,  before wandering over them slowly. What they sound like. What they look like. What they mean. Who says them. And a whole lot more.

I turn them over in my mind, and they’re  like those little wooden blocks that children make towers to tomorrow out of before they all come crashing down around them, causing squeals of laughter, or tears of frustration and remorse. I guess you can say that I love words, and none so much as the common.

What is fierce?

Today the word ‘fierce’ came to mind. As I turned it over and over, looking for its equivalent in today’s world, ‘sick’ came to mind, along with its predecessors, ‘cool’ and ‘awesome’, along with the almost unforgettable qualifier ‘totally’.

‘Totally fierce’ tumbled around my mind for a while, and with its implications of total abandon, protection and uninhibited passion behind it, I found I really liked the sound of it.

Is fierce bad, or good?

Fierce is an interesting word because it can be either positive or negative, depending on what side of the fence you are standing. I would think most people would look at it in its most basic definition of  being, “Extremely severe or violent; terrible” which sounds pretty bad, but it is also defined as, “Extremely intense or ardent” ( both definitions come from the free dictionary.

No gray area with God

So, I got to thinking that this is exactly how God is. Depending on where you stand with Him, He is either the first or second definition. He’s definitely not anywhere in between. There is no gray area with God. He either seems fierce or extremely severe and terrible if you aren’t in relationship with Him through Jesus/Yeshua, or He is fierce about how He feels for you as someone who knows Him through Jesus/Yeshua.

The fierce I AM

It is very clear throughout scripture that the great I Am is fierce. He isn’t some wishy-washy god who changes on a dime to accommodate some vision of what some man thinks He should be. He is who He is and He cannot be anything else. He is fiercely who He is, which can be a little frightening at times because we don’t ever encounter that with anyone but Him.

The intensity with which He feels, and the lengths He is willing to go to get through to us can be frightening. Then when we are in relationship with Him through His efforts, not our own, the ardent and passionate way He loves us can be frightening in its ferocity.

God is fiercely in love with you

At the end of the day, no matter how you slice it, when you really realize that you are in relationship with the fierce One who created it all, including you, and that He is fiercely in love with you. There is no way to respond with anything but amazement, awe, and yes, sometimes even a little bit of fierceness ourselves.

“neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:39

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Butterfly effect

Image via Wikipedia

I’m always struck by just how many times people do things and the downstream results of their actions are never at all what they think they will be, if they think about them at all.

It doesn’t matter if our actions are really big and have an immediate effect, or very small and seemingly inconsequential, there always seem to be consequences that we wholly don’t anticipate.

It sort of reminds me of the whole Butterfly Effect where a butterfly flaps its wings in one part of the world and sets of a chain reaction that ends up being a storm on the other side of the world.

I was reminded of this just recently on of all places, Facebook.

Being a collector of various bits of information, most of it coming from a cornucopia of sources – that because of my background, I deem either reliable or unreliable – I end up with quite a bit of information that I pass on to others who may interested. Usually I do this through a phone call, an email, or if I happen to run into them, I’ll just tell them about it.

Very rarely do I post something on someone else’s wall on Facebook, but, that’s just what I did with an interesting video about the actual effects of fiscal inequality, which according to the data collected are very different in tenor and tone than one might automatically assume.

If you’re interested in taking a look, you can view it here: richard_wilkinson.html

But, it wasn’t the video itself that led me to think about unintended consequences, it was what happen after I posted it on my friend’s page. First another friend saw the post, viewed it and reposted it to her 259 friends. Then a friend of hers saw her post and reposted it to her 193 friends, and I don’t know where it went from there, but you get the picture.

When I posted it I thought one person would view it, but instead 452 other people that I know of saw the posting, and I assume a fraction of those actually took the time to watch it, which was a far greater number of people seeing it than I ever intended. It really gave me a very small-scale view of how something could indeed go viral on the internet and end up affecting millions of people before a day is out.

All this got me thinking about how we live our lives as everyday believers in Christ. How our behavior has unintended, far-reaching and unseen consequences for either good or ill than we will ever know, which is why it’s so important to stay as close to the LORD as possible and live our lives in Him and for Him instead of for ourselves.

“…you should live in a way that proves you belong to the God who calls you into his kingdom and glory.”

1 Thessalonians: 2:12

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Bionicle figures

Being content in all things.

 Worshipping the LORD no matter what’s going on around us.

 Or, taking it one step further, enjoying the life we’ve been given no matter what it looks like.

 These are kind of foreign concepts to most of us. Our natural inclination is to complain, or ask the LORD to change things, or to give us more, or ______, you fill in the blank.

 My son is an avid collector. He’s been this way ever since he was small. If he got one toy in a set of six, he had to have the other five to be happy because unless the set was complete, it just wasn’t right.

 I remember this in particular with the LEGO Bionicle toys. Now, LEGO is a mastermind of marketing, and, they just seem to know what appeals to young minds. But, in this arena they really outdid themselves.  

 They created a whole world on the island of Mata Nui. This island was populated by the Toa’s, the Bohrak, the Toa Nuva, the Bohrak Kal, and the list goes on. All of them had different sets of six LEGO figures, which added up to a lot. And, that didn’t even include the special sets and the movies, books, etc.

 It seemed like every time he got a new one, there were five others we had to get to satisfy him. Now, he didn’t always get those other five, but because he likes sets of things, and is a collector, he wasn’t truly satisfied with what he had until he thought it was complete. And, the only way for it to be complete was to have all six.

 We’re a little bit like that in our own lives, aren’t we? We think, if only this were finished; if only we had this; if only we were here, there or had done this or that. If only somehow we would achieve that elusive completion that will make us feel content for even five seconds.

 But, the reality is that no matter what we achieve, what we get, how many sets of life experiences we complete, that sense of authentic, lasting completeness will only be truly found in Him. In relationship to Him who is the essence of completeness.

 Sure, we can achieve things. When we do, we can quiet that sense of the need for completion for just a little bit. Then, before we know it, we sense it again and go on another quest for completion that will just end in the same way.

No matter where we are in our lives, we can all focus on the more that we don’t have instead of the enough that we do. Realizing, also, that He is the only enough we will ever encounter. It’s when we live in that enough, knowing that somehow the LORD is enough for us no matter what our circumstances look like, that true contentment comes.

 Living in Him is the only way that we can be content in all circumstances, and, not only that, but it’s only in that space that we can take that extra step of making the enjoyment of the life He’s given us into an actual way of saying “Thank You” to Him.

 “I know how to live in poverty or prosperity. No matter what the situation, I’ve learned the secret of how to live when I’m full or when I’m hungry, when I have too much or when I have too little. I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:12-13

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Collection of small Bungee Cords

Image via Wikipedia

Typically I’m not someone who likes to get anywhere early. I like to get to places exactly on time, which in some instances means I’m a little earlier than those others who like to be fashionably late, but there are times when I’m the one who’s late – like arriving at church every Sunday just a few minutes late -, but more often than not, I tend to be a little too early in my quest to be on time.

 Because I’m generally a background person – which I prefer – when I get places a little early even though people know that I’m there, because I fade into the background, it doesn’t bother them. I’ve found that this often gives me a bird’s eye view of what happens before the crowd shows up.

 Every Friday, I attend the chapel service at my son’s school. I’m always a little early because there’s lag time between the time I drop him off and the time chapel starts. During this time, I plant myself at the back of the sanctuary and very often listen to the praise team run through the songs they’re planning on singing during chapel.

 Typically, they’re all on board when they get there. So, it’s just a matter of running through that they already know and warming up a bit, but one Friday it was totally different.

 We have a great music teacher who also leads the praise and worship group, which is made up of three girls with wonderful voices. Although their ranges are all different with one high soprano, a lower soprano and an alto, they typically sing within the same melody, and don’t have to truly harmonize with one another.

 But, like I said, this Friday was different. Their teacher decided that they had enough time to truly harmonize and blend their voices one to the other. So, it was like pulling three disparate threads together to form one whole cord.

 When they first began to sing, they didn’t harmonize at all. In fact, even though they were all singing the same words they all sounded like they were singing with their own accompanist. From the back, I could hear each of their individual voices instead of a seamless whole. I could almost see the three different threads of sound weaving their way to the back of the room. But, as they practiced that began to change.

 With their teacher giving them a hint here and an encouragement there, the three began to blend beautifully until you couldn’t distinguish one voice from the other because the three harmonized perfectly into a seamless whole.

 As I sat and watched them, it reminded me of the body of Christ and how all of us are so different from one another. We definitely march to the beat of our own drummer when we become a part of it. On top of that, we all have such different functions in it, one is a healer, one is a teacher, one is a seer, one is a motivator, and so on and so on. Yet, under the instruction of Christ, with a hint from Him here, an encouragement from Him there, He turns us into a fully functioning, seamless whole.

 His bringing us into the body, causing us to pull together with each of our individual gifts and talents, then making a body that actually functions seamlessly is a miracle of huge proportions. He is patiently working with us making the impossibility of us truly coming together in Him not only a possibility, but a reality.

“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.”

Romans 12: 4 – 6b

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Artificial Sweeteners - Splenda & Equal

Image by Bukowsky18 via Flickr

Sitting outside at what passes for a sidewalk cafe setting in my little neck of the woods the other day having iced tea with a friend, I was struck by the amount of sweeteners there are in the world now.

My friend takes sugar in her iced tea and when the young women who served us brought out the container full of sweetener packets, I was reminded of just how many choices we all have when it comes to making what could be bitter just that much sweeter.

In the little white rectangle sugar packet holder there were the typical white packets filled with honest-to-goodness real sugar, along with the packets of artificial sweeteners that not too long ago in the grand scheme of things didn’t even exist. Those packets weren’t plain white, no, they were the color of Easter eggs, light blue, pink and yellow. They carried with them the promise that if you used them, you wouldn’t have to deal with pesky calories because they were calorie free, adding sweetness without the worry.

The little yellow packet’s really caught my eye, because it reminded me of a conversation I had with one of my son’s friends about, believe it or not, Splenda. And, lest you think it was a conversation about the evils of artificial sweetener, it wasn’t, it was about always being prepared.

He was telling me a story about his grandmother, and how his entire family had gone out to eat but the restaurant didn’t have his grandmother’s preferred sweetener of Splenda so she just took a little yellow packet out of her purse to use in her iced tea.

Slightly amused by his retelling of the story, I asked him if his grandmother always carried Splenda in her purse.

‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘And, she’s not the only one. All her friends carry it too, just in case. So, they know they have it when they need it.’

Then he smiled and shook his head, saying, ‘Yeah, when someone at the table asks for Splenda all of them dig in their purses and out comes all these packets of Splenda.’

It’s quite a picture isn’t it? The thought of a group of grandmothers all pulling out their Easter egg yellow Splenda packets at the same time, just because someone wants to sweeten their iced tea or coffee.

It’s the very picture of being prepared, which is just how we should be with the LORD and His word. We should always have it somewhere on our person, just in case we, or someone else, needs it.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, ….”

1 Peter 3:15

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There are certain people in scripture that really appeal to me and King David is one of them. Not because he became king, but because he believed the LORD would do what He said He would do no matter what. David believed the LORD even when he was living in caves and it looked like there was no way ever that he would become king.

He is referred to as a man after God’s own heart, and despite all that he did, the wrong decisions, the breaking of Torah law, the self-reliance, he always came back to the LORD, and quickly too. Not only that, but he shared everything with the LORD, he praised Him in his sorrow, his fear, his joy and his love.

He shared everything with the LORD, it just bears repeating doesn’t it?

In Psalm 56 David states that the LORD collects every tear we cry, that He collects them in a bottle and cherishes them because they are ours, and I dare say because they represent all of our life’s emotions.

Just recently I was thinking about this very thing, tears in a bottle, and that David was talking about the sorrows of life. All of us have shed more than our fair share, Christ Himself said there is trouble in this world, but not to fear because He has overcome the world.  If Christ Himself says you’re going to have trouble, you’d better believe it, and you’d better believe that it will come with tears.

Yet tears don’t always come with pain do they? Although that’s the most common thing we think of when we think about tears, they also come with great joy, with laughter and with love. They express the full spectrum of our emotions from the unbearably painful to the unbearably lovely.

And, I’m sure that the LORD catches those joyful tears too. Not just the ones we shed in our pain, but also the ones we shed when we are overwhelmed by love and the beauty of life. He is there with us in them all, experiencing every emotion with us, catching every tear that slides down our cheeks because they are precious to Him, and that’s because we are precious to Him.

“Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears;….”

2 Kings 20:5a

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Element of coat of arms

Image via Wikipedia

It’s funny what will trigger a memory. It could be a sight, a smell or a sound. Just this morning I came out and saw my son watching television and it took me back about 10 years when he was just a pint-sized three.

Almost every Saturday when he was small, he would wake up with his then blond hair tousled from sleep, pad out to the kitchen in his Dinseyfied pajamas and we’d have breakfast. Then we’d sit up in my bed in the middle of a pile of pillows and I’d turn the television on. He’d watch now defunct Disney shows like Bear in The Big Blue House and Rolie Polie Olie, while I sat next to him and flipped through catalogues and magazines.

It was one of those memories that I’ll never forget and if I ask him, he remembers those mornings too.

As I rested in that memory this morning, I realized it was a very real picture of abiding with someone because sometimes abiding with someone is just a state of being with them, connected to them in an undeniable way that goes beyond the work we all seem to think it is and getting to the point where we just are together.

The LORD paints a wonderful picture of this when He talks about the vine and the branches. Do the branches question the vine? Do they work to be attached to it? Do they do very much but trust and rest in the source of their nutrients and their life?

The answer to all those questions and more is ‘no, they don’t’ all they do is allow themselves to be grafted into the vine, take sustenance from the vine from which they grow and then the vine takes over, doing the rest of the work. In essence, they get to the point where they’re not fighting to grow their own way and the grafting in process is done, so they just rest in vine.

If only we could all get to that point of being with the LORD, to that place where we just are with Him in the way that He promises we can be if we truly abide in Him.

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

John 15:4

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